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Bottomfish Identification: Surfperch

Pile Perch
Rhacochilus vacca

Caught by recreational harvesters within Puget Sound and in embayments along the outer coast.

Description: The body of the pile perch is a deep oval shape and is compressed from side to side.  It is dark gray or brown with a silvery luster that dominates the color on the sides and belly.  There are darker blotches on the back and sides.  Juveniles have dark vertical bars that diminish with age.  This species has 9-11 dorsal spines and 21-25 dorsal soft rays. 

Maximum Size: To 44.2 cm (17.4 in) in length and 2 kg (4.4 lbs.) in weight.

Maximum Age: At least 10 years old.

Range/Habitat: Pile perch range from Wrangell, southeastern Alaska to Guadalupe Island, off north-central Baja California, Mexico.  Adults are found along rocky shores, often around kelp, pilings and underwater structures, in water depths up to 46 m (150 ft).


  • Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.
  • Hart, J.L., 1973. Pacific fishes of Canada. Bull. Fish. Res. Board Can. 180:740 p.
  • Wares, P. G., 1968. Biology of the pile perch (Rhacochilus vacca).

Photos: Robertson, D Ross